If no one is bidding on Joe Crede, why has his price gone up?
The Star-Tribune is reporting today that even before the Giants submitted their bid, Crede's asking price went from the $5.1 million he made last year to around $7 million. If he stays healthy, his desired deal could approach Adrian Beltre's $12-million deal.
This sudden rise in price brings two major questions about Crede to the fore.
First: Is he healthy now, and if so, is he likely to stay healthy?
Crede has had two related back injuries, but not in the way that consecutive knee injuries are likely to be related. He had a herniated disc, then an impinged nerve as a result of the corrective surgery.
Nerve injuries are almost always one-shot deals. No team worried about Crede's health is looking at that as a knock on his value, even though it cut his 2008 campaign short.
The herniated disc injury, on the other hand, is a risk. According to the medical literature, herniated discs are likely to recur multiple times if they recur at all, and one of the most common ways to herniate a disc is by twisting violently, as one might in a swinging motion.
So, either Crede is healed and no longer an injury risk or he's headed for not just one recurrence, but many.
Reports differ about how healthy Crede is now, Scott Boras and SI's Jon Heyman have him at or near 100 percent, but Twins scouts were less than convinced.
If the nerve is still bothering him, it will most likely be gone by the time the season starts. If it's the disc acting up already, Crede may never play without some pain again.
Second: If he is healthy, is he worth upwards of 12 million dollars?
Crede's best season was also his last full season. In 2006, Crede hit .283/.323/.829 with 30 home runs and 94 RBI. Add to that the fact that he is a plus defender and it's easy to see why any team would be interested.
However, there is reason to be wary of Crede that has nothing to do with his back.
Crede's career line is .257/.314/.774. Nick Punto, whom Crede would displace, has career averages of .252/.319/.652 and would cost $3 million less than Crede at the very minimum.
Granted, .122 points of OPS is fairly substantial. Crede averages 25 home runs per 162 games, Punto has yet to hit his 25th professional home run.
What differentiates Crede from many third baseman is their defense, and while he would be an upgrade over Punto, their difference is marginal at best.
The primary difference between these two is the power, and power is one factor very closely tied to health. If Crede can't make a full swing, he's probably a substantially more expensive version of a player the Twins already have.
If Crede was a lock to hit .300 with 20 to 30 home runs and his already solid defense, all dependent on health, then the Twins would probably be smart to take the gamble.
However, if he's healthy, Crede could reach all the PA based incentives and still give the Twins only marginal offensive value at third base. They would add 10 to 20 home runs from the position, but would lose points in batting average and on-base percentage.
It is plausible and even possible that the Twins could pay nearly $1 million per home run Crede would add, and that assumes no increase in power from Punto, Harris, Buscher, or whatever platoon the Twins choose to use.
The Twins could be best served by paying Crede to hit the 17 to 20 home runs he hit last year over the course of something like 50 to 80 games. This would prevent Crede from reaching his incentives, keeping the price low, but also giving the Twins an upgrade from what they had last year.
If the Twins could somehow get the Joe Crede from 2006 or know that he was going to repeat those stats this year, he would probably be worth the health risk.
However, when the best case scenario is for Crede to re-injure himself after playing around half a season, that's probably an indication that he isn't a good player for the Twins to pursue.
This is, of course, dependent on the rumors of his contract demands being accurate. If the Twins would pay $5.1 million as the base salary with $2 million to $3 million in incentives, that alters the calculus. Crede could still be a very good answer for this team, but not when the gamble on his health is between $7 million and $12 million.